For some of us of a certain age, the Goo Goo Dolls shows we’ll always remember most fondly were loose, somewhat informal affairs, bolstered by the easygoing banter between John Rzeznik and Robby Takac – the kind of gigs where, if anyone made a mistake, they laughed and kept on going, and if someone yelled something from the crowd, a band member took it and ran with it.
On Monday afternoon, the band offered a slightly truncated version of the type of show we used to see at the Continental way back when, granting younger fans who might not have been there in the day the chance to experience their up close and personal charm.
The event, held on the second floor of 716 Food & Sport on the second floor, was a promotional gig presented by STAR 102.5 FM, held to celebrate the release of the band’s 11th studio album, “Boxes.”
As a concert venue, the second floor of 716 is not large, which meant that everyone who made it in – somewhere in the area of 100 people – had a great seat. The Goos took advantage of the almost awkward intimacy by reminding us that so much of their impact over the years has been a byproduct of their abundant charisma. Well, that, and the fact that Rzeznik grew into a top-tier modern rock songwriter along the way, and has by this point accrued a songbook that includes more than a few stone cold classic of the form.
Rzeznik and Takac, joined by a guest percussionist for much of the show, played old songs, new songs, took questions from the crowd, played at least one tune they hadn’t bothered rehearsing, cracked jokes, and stuck around to take photos and chat with fans afterwards. The crowd spanned a few generations, with the old Continental set – a group that includes your correspondent – and a new generation of listeners fully converted to the band’s soulful alt-rock cause.
“Rebel Beat,” from 2013’s “Magnetic,” opened the show and benefitted from its stripped-down, raw arrangement. A pair of brand new songs – “So Alive,” the first single from “Boxes”, and “Pin,” which should clearly be the second – went down well with the assembled. Two of the tunes that signaled Rzeznik’s arrival as a songwriting force to be reckoned with in the mid-to-late ’90s, “Name” and “Broadway,” were greeted with the sort of enthusiasm that suggested the fans were just getting warmed up.
Alas, they’ll have to wait for the band’s official homecoming gig – Aug. 20 at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center – for the full-blown treatment.
Radio promotional shows can feel like cold, pre-scripted and antiseptic affairs. This one didn’t. Rzeznik and Takac were clearly having a blast, and so were their fans.